WMU-Cooley Law School Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated at WMU-Cooley Law School campuses on Monday, Jan. 16.
In Lansing, the Student Bar Association (SBA) hosted a Commitment to Service luncheon in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Students, faculty, and staff gathered to discuss justice and the law with panel speakers from local advocacy and legal service organizations.
Panelists included Katie Filimon, Volunteers of America; Nicole Shannon, Legal Services of South Central Michigan; Meghan Faught, End Violent Encounters; Karen Poole, WMU-Cooley Law School Career Services coordinator; and Michael McDaniel, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Lansing campus associate dean.
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a hard-won nationally recognized holiday and because of the efforts needed to win that recognition, it is a holiday that cannot be spent on a couch, in a mall, or even alone,” said McDaniel. “The day, and the man that the day recognizes, demands that we spend time reflecting on our nation's history and its future. Indeed, the juxtaposition of MLK Day and Inauguration Day makes it very clear that for every step toward justice and equality, there will always be push-back. The answer, though, is re-commitment to continue marching ever forward.”
In Auburn Hills, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) hosted the panel discussion, “Trump’s First 100 Days: Bridging Gaps and Building Empathy.” The discussion was part of WMU-Cooley’s Equal Access to Justice Day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The discussion was moderated by Rosston Ramsey, WMU-Cooley Law School student. He spoke about Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishments and shared a video of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech before the featured panelists spoke.
The featured panelists included Ruby Robinson, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center; and WMU-Cooley Law School professors Lewis Langham, Lisa DeMoss, and Gerald Fisher. They spoke about the upcoming presidential inauguration, the challenges the nation faces, and how past leaders overcame diversity.
“The next few years will have their challenges. As we stay vigilant today, we can ensure that today's constitutional protections will be available over the next four years and for future generations,” said Robinson. “Ensure, preserve, and expand access to justice and civil rights by utilizing the courts.”
The Tampa Bay campus honored the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering at Everyday Blessings, a foster care organization located in Thonotosassa, Florida.
Those living at Everyday Blessings range in age from newborn through 17 years old, and come from all economic backgrounds and ethnic groups. The foster care organization houses children who have been removed from their previous homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Nearly 30 volunteers from WMU-Cooley Law School provided lunch for foster children living at the facility. The foster children and WMU-Cooley volunteers played games and participated in various activities relating to who Dr. King was and the importance of commemorating his civil rights efforts.
“It was a wonderful afternoon of fellowship and mentoring celebrating the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Barbara Kalinowski, WMU-Cooley Law School professor. “The students have already taken it upon themselves to organize a supply donation drive for children at Everyday Blessings.”
WMU-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids’ campus honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by hosting an inter-generational group discussion for faculty, staff and students.
Kenyata McGill, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Black Law Student Association Grand Rapids president; Tracey Brame, WMU-Cooley Law School assistant dean; and Brame’s mother, Dorothy Weaver led a discussion about how Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishments have shaped today’s society and the events that led to the making of the movie Selma.
The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when King led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"These kinds of inter-generational, cross-cultural discussions about race are important to foster understanding and allow everyone to work together to heal the wounds of racism,” said Tracey Brame, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus assistant dean.
About Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School: WMU-Cooley Law School resulted from the 2014 affiliation that combined WMU's status as a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The law school has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world, and enrolls classes in January, May, and September at its Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan campuses, and its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. WMU and WMU-Cooley Law School operate as independent institutions with their own governance structure and separate fiduciary responsibilities.